Thoughts · Workplace

11 Lessons from being a business owner

Last month I completed 1 year since I quit advertising, quit a job and started managing a small business along with my wife. What I do now is different from what I did in the past 14 years of my working life. Different but at the core very same.

However running your own business has some challenges and some lessons you need to learn fast if you want to survive, grow and make your efforts count.

1.Self-starter Wanted
There is No Boss for a pep talk, no colleague to drink with and no HR for your Annual Review. If you can’t be a self-starter then things are going to be a drag. You need to wake up every morning & get to office NOT because your boss needs you or the client is firing. But because you have clients to face and salaries to pay at the end of the month.

2.No role only responsibility
As a business owner you have no defined role you only have responsibilities. If transport fails, you need to load the taxi and have the good delivered to the client. If your accountant is missing, you need to issue bills and follow-up on the money.

3.Respect your time
If your business is a small setup, chances are you are working by yourself most of the time. Which means you need to fix deadlines for yourself and ensure you don’t get lost trying to check Facebook & Twitter because there is nobody expecting a report at the end of the evening.

4.Penny Pinching
Every penny counts. Cost of courier, travel & telephone expense, staff entertainment – all these indirect expenses matter if not controlled. So be wise, search for cheaper options, look for ways to ensure your expense is controlled from day one.

5.Build relationships
I think this one applies for any scenario – Job or Business. Don’t work with people because you think they are being paid and hence obliged to deliver. Work with the attitude that together you are fulfilling a requirement and helping everyone in the deal move forward. Respect them all.

6.Hire attitude then talent
As a small business owner budgets can be small when it comes to hiring help / talent. My experience – Hire people with the right attitude. A 6/10 on talent can be made into a 8/10 over a period of time. Hand holding, guidance and training should get them there.

7.Develop a problem solving attitude
Shit will happen. Things will not go as planned. You will be challenged almost all the time. As a small business owner if you don’t develop a problem solver attitude there is very little you will be able to achieve. Leave the comfort, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to get your hands dirty.

8.Spread your hope & risks
No single client should be responsible for all your expenses. Spread your business so that you don’t have to close shop if that client goes out of business or just happens to not pay for the services/goods. Keep the faith but spread it.

9.Keep innovating. Keep experimenting.
In the last 1 year we have experimented and introduced our clients to a varied product range. Some were hits, some failures. We have worked & then re-worked our price points, re-seller commission models and everything that goes with it. We have banked on the success but haven’t stopped the innovation because we for sure know that our best designs will be outdated very soon.

10.Build your image
As a small business owner, I strongly recommend spending good time & some money building the right imagery for your business brand. Do you have a well designed logo? A sales pitch for new clients? You don’t need to spend mega bucks on marketing but do focus on the smaller elements to build the right image for your business.

11.Money is a bitch
Buyers will come in with very big smiles. They will agree to prices with maybe a small smile but they will smile the least when you talk about payments. If you happen to be unlucky, at some point chasing your OWN HARD EARNED money will become a TASK. Calls, follow-ups and what not. So play safe. Keep your risks minimised.

Want to share something with me & my readers? Do leave a comment below.

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4 thoughts on “11 Lessons from being a business owner

  1. Hi Kapil

    Good to see you are documenting your progress and advising new would be owners…

    I read somewhere that Businesses need not set goal to how much profit they want to make. It says “treat customers well and offer value, Profit will be there”

    My 2 Pesa worth!

    >

  2. So true. Somebody I admire for his passion of work and attitude towards life said when you work focus on what you are delivering. Money will always come as a by-product of hard work.

  3. As a first time small business owner.. My experience so far is to treat artist, stockist and other team members with lots of respect.. Never lose your artists’ faith in you just because one attitude customer was not happy with the outcome..

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